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Caught on video: Thief targets tropical fruit trees

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Posted at 6:02 PM, Jan 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-27 21:10:57-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Video shows a thief in action, as tropical fruit trees continue to disappear from the yards of homes.

The empty spots in Thuan Nguyen's front yard on Suffolk Street are hard to look at.

"Makes me feel bad," said Nguynen.

Surveillance video shows the culprit, a figure in red, carrying away one of her potted atemoya trees, a tropical fruit free found in her native Vietnam.

"I'm angry, get mad," said Nguyen.

Two of those trees - some $300 worth - would disappear Wednesday night. The next night, another of her trees would vanish. Video shows what appears to be a woman walking up to, and grabbing a potted mango plant, before struggling a bit to carry it away.

"Sad and a bit violated," said Ngoc Bui.

Bui, her son-in-law and next-door neighbor, says in the past six months, three other fruit trees have been snatched in the area, including one at his home and another Nguyen's home. All of them were atemoyas trees. The fruit of the atemoya tree is almost sweet. It's valued at about $4 or $5 a fruit.

For this family, the trees are worth much more.

"They have memories of growing up in Vietnam, and this is a reminder," said Bui.

Less than two miles away is a similar sentiment in a Redwood Village neighborhood. Last month, 10News reported on a video showing a thief digging, tugging and stealing a June Plum tree planted in the ground, the latest in a series of fruit tree thefts in that area. That thief also appeared to be a woman. If the thefts are related, Bui can't help but worry about when the thief might strike next.

"You tend and care for the trees on a daily basis. When they are no longer there, you feel a bit empty," said Bui.